It is easy to know if someone has a cut or other wound. All you have to do is look. The evidence is right in front of you. There is no need to seek signs or add up fractions of information. Detecting Lyme disease is the very opposite: complicated, indirect, and requiring multiple diagnostic tools.
So what’s the big deal? Why bother with this Lyme disease thing anyway? The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States estimates that there are ten times more cases of Lyme disease than are actually reported. That means there are 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease every year, only 30,000 of which end up diagnosed. Three hundred thousand new cases per year. The reasons for the upswing are uncertain and contentious, to say the least. Suffice it to say that Lyme disease isn’t rare at all, it’s just under diagnosed.
No single test in existence can definitively verify the presence — or absence — of Lyme disease. Most current tests look for an indirect sign like antibodies, a trail left through your body as it responds to the infection. These tests are not perfect because antibodies may not be present, even if you are infected. Perhaps, for example, your body responded to the infection initially, but you did not get a diagnosis. Now, years later, your body is no longer able to produce the antibodies at all. Or maybe infection is at such an early stage that your body has not yet created antibodies in the first place.
This is why standard screening tests may not be accurate. The majority of the results they provide may be false negatives. And even the most accurate ways to check for indirect signs only prove exposure to the bacteria that causes Lyme; they do not necessarily prove active, ongoing infection. There are some cutting edge tests that attempt to culture the bacteria, providing direct and obvious evidence, but they are still in their infancy.
What every stand-alone test lacks is a history of the patient, a comprehensive list of their symptoms, an ongoing view of their health. Diagnostics are not just about tests, it’s about chasing leads and using detective skills to find the culprit. Your travel and health history, lifestyle, and symptom pattern all matter.
Diagnostics at the Nardella Clinic always begins with the small but important questions that are specific to each individual. And, of course, we use every useful test that is available to fill in blanks as required. Some of these tests are the same type that a standard MD would use, but the labs we use are exceptional in experience, methodology, and research. Our naturopath doctors will then go over these results with you.
Comprehensive testing for exposure to Borrelia may include all or a combination of the following tests;.
- Western Blot IgG and IgM to help differentiate between past and current exposure. A Western Blot test checks for key antibodies. The Western Blot that we use looks for two antibodies that are very specific to Lyme disease.
- PCR Testing – direct test which detects bacterial DNA
Additional tests may help to evaluate a chronic infection. These include;
- CD57 – a marker on a natural killer cell that reflects if the immune system is being suppressed as a result of infection.
- Cytokines – Immune markers which help to regulate immune response and inflammation. Patterns of high and low cytokines help to determine if an infection is active.
Co-infection testing is also important in the diagnosis of Lyme and tick-borne disease. This includes testing for the following organisms.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
So at what point should you speak with one of our naturopath doctors? If you have a mysterious condition that nobody can explain, if you have ever had a tick attachment and feel like your health has declined since then, visit us. For that matter, if you still have the tick we can send it for testing. The earlier you diagnose and treat Lyme disease the better the outcome.
There are options.
Contact our naturopathic clinic if you would like more information or you are ready to move forward.